How the Beckwith Scotch Turned Defeat into Victory

How the Beckwith Scotch Turned Defeat into Victory
A striking story of the first election in Lanark county after Reverend Buchanan arrived there in 1822. An election to the Parliament of Upper Canada took place in 1824 but it shows clearly that an election is never won until the last vote is counted.
There were no newspapers to keep folks posted no Grits and Tories no Reformers and Conservatives, but just two candidates for Parliament Wm. Morris– later Hon. Mr. Morris and Dr. Thom.
Mr. Morris wrote to Reverend Buchanan asking him to do something in his behalf. The good reverend answered that he would talk to the congregation at a meeting to be held the next week. He did so advising all to support Mr. Morris whom he commended as a capable man and a Presbyterian. The people heard this with evident satisfaction and promised to act accordingly.
Everyone who wanted to vote had to go to Perth to cast their ballots and the election voting lasted a week. Late In the afternoon of the closing day. Dr. Thom was considerably ahead. His supporters were jubilant
Just at that very moment the Beckwith delegates appeared in sight, having walked the whole way,. There were Highland pipers playing the bagpipes at the head of the procession. Every man that marched in that procession voted for Morris, electing him by a large majority! They placed him in a big chair and carried him around the town in triumph and enjoyed their well-earned victory to the utmost.
Mr. Morris did not disappoint the high opinion of the public. He served In Parliament many years with distinguished credit and ability. One son. Hon. Alex. Morris, also represented Lanark in Parliament, was lieutenant governor of Manitoba and died in Toronto.

William Morris (October 31, 1786–June 29, 1858) was a businessman and political figure in Upper Canada.

He was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1786, the son of a Scottish manufacturer. His family came to Upper Canada in 1801, where his father set up an import-export business. The business failed and his father retired to a farm near Elizabethtown (Brockville). After the death of his father, he opened a general store with his brother, Alexander. He joined the militia during the War of 1812.

In 1816, he opened a second store in the new settlement at Perth. In 1818, he was appointed justice of the peace in the area and, in 1820, he was elected to the 8th Parliament of Upper Canada representing Carleton. He represented Carleton and then Lanark until 1836, when he was appointed to the Legislative Council. He also served as lieutenant-colonel in the local militia. He was involved in setting up the first canal connecting the Tay River to Lower Rideau Lake in 1834.

Although conservative, he was not part of the elite Family Compact, due in part to his strong affiliation with the Church of Scotland. His efforts to have the church recognized as one of the two national churches in the British Empire resulted in the creation of the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. He also played a major role in establishing Queen’s College, later Queen’s University and was the first chairman of the board of trustees. He was appointed to the Legislative Council when Upper and Lower Canada were united in 1841. In 1842, he was appointed warden for the Johnstown District. In 1844, he became receiver general for the United Canadas. In 1846, he became president of the Executive Council.

He suffered a stroke in 1853, at which point, he retired from active public life; he died at Montreal in 1858.




Born: 31 Oct. 1786 in Paisley, Scotland, second child of Alexander Morris and Janet Lang; m. 15 Aug. 1823 Elizabeth Cochran of Kirktonfield, parish of Neilston, Scotland, and they had three sons and four daughters.

Died: 29 June 1858 in Montreal.

William Morris, champion of the Church of Scotland in the Canadas, was the son of a well-to-do Scottish manufacturer. He was brought up in comfort in Paisley where he attended the local grammar school. In the spring of 1801 the Morris family, encouraged by friends in Upper Canada and armed with a letter of introduction to Lieutenant Governor Peter Hunter*, set sail for Canada in search of increased wealth. After some hesitation William’s father ventured his capital on the import-export trade between Montreal and Scotland. But in 1804 and 1805 he suffered severe financial reverses and shortly thereafter retired to a farm near Elizabethtown (Brockville), Upper Canada. There, amid heavy debts, he died in 1809. William, who had returned with the family to Scotland in 1802 and remained there with his mother, sister, and younger brother James* for nearly four years, had come back to Canada in the fall of 1806. With his elder brother Alexander, he set out to repay their late father’s creditors and recoup the family fortunes. Not destitute, yet financially unable to engage in the transatlantic trade as importers or wholesalers, they opened a store in Elizabethtown. They became two more of those small merchants in Upper Canada who served as middlemen between the mercantile houses of Montreal and the Indians, loggers, and settlers peopling the edge of the wilderness.

On the outbreak of the War of 1812 William obtained a commission as ensign in the 1st Leeds Militia. He took part in a number of operations culminating in the battle of Ogdensburg, N.Y., in February 1813 when he was detailed by Lieutenant-Colonel George Richard John Macdonell to lead the successful assault on the old French fort. The following year he resigned from the militia to return to the family business. The war had been an exciting interlude, one which convinced him that Canadians were fundamentally loyal to the crown and capable of defending their country.

The brothers, looking for new commercial opportunities, decided to open a second store in the proposed military settlement at Perth. In 1816 William left Alexander in charge of the store in Brockville and travelled to Perth where hard work, frugality, and a keen eye for business drove him up the ladder of success. It was not long before he was the largest merchant in town, and he was soon deeply involved in local real estate. In partnership with Alexander, then with their younger brother James, and by the late 1830s acting independently, William slowly and persistently expanded his speculation in land into the rest of eastern Upper Canada and then right across the province. Mindful of their father’s problems, the Morris brothers were careful never to overextend themselves or to concentrate too heavily in any one enterprise. William wisely invested his excess capital from his land speculation and store in the new Canadian banking industry. Not all his ventures were to prove successful, however. Efforts to provide for navigation on the Tay River between Perth and the Lower Rideau Lake culminated in 1831 in the incorporation of the Tay Navigation Company, behind which Morris was the leading spirit and chief stockholder. The first Tay Canal was opened in 1834, but the company was plagued by lack of funds, and the canal works ultimately fell into decay.

By the 1820s Morris had become a prominent figure in the Perth area. Commissioned a justice of the peace in 1818, he spearheaded the successful campaign the following year to obtain a seat in the House of Assembly for the Perth region. In the area’s first general election in 1820 he was swept into office. A conscientious constituency man, he held the seat for Carleton and later for Lanark without trouble until his appointment to the Legislative Council in 1836 removed him from elective politics. Morris was named lieutenant-colonel of the newly formed 2nd Regiment of Carleton militia in 1822 and remained active in the militia for more than 20 years. During 1837–38, as senior colonel in Lanark County, he twice called out detachments to suppress rebellion and oppose invasion and on one occasion went in command himself. Successful businessman, militia colonel, and leader of the local conservative forces, William Morris was a man to be both courted and feared. Perth Remembered



The Squeaker Election — November 1980 Carleton Place

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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